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Profitable Christians

A Peanuts cartoon demonstrated how some people don't like to be responsible for themselves. Peppermint Patty was talking to Charlie Brown. She said, "Guess what, Chuck? The first day of school, and I got sent to the principal's office. It was your fault, Chuck." Charlie, taken aback, said, "My fault? How could it be my fault? Why do you say everything is my fault?" Pattie replied, "You're my best friend, aren't you, Chuck? You should have been a better influence on me." It wasn't Charlie's fault, but Pattie reminds us of a great Bible truth — Christians have influence on those around them. That's a lesson the apostle Paul was asking his preacher friend and protoge Titus to get across to Christians living on the island of Crete in the first century. Crete was a tough place to be a Christian and a tough place to preach. Titus 1:9-12 reveals there was a character crisis on the Mediterranean island of Crete. The culture had grown coarse and corrupt, saturated with deception and dishonesty and unbridled greed. In describing them, the apostle Paul writes bluntly, "One of them, a prophet of their own, said, "Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons. This testimony is true." (verse 12, 13a). So what can Titus and other Christians on Crete do to counter eroding moral and spiritual values in their culture? First, they can stand up and speak out for what is right. After admitting that things are bad, Paul continues, "Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith" (verse 13b). Negatively, Titus and the church must seek to remind their contemporaries some things are right and some are wrong. All lifestyles and ways and teachings are not equal and valid and pleasing to God. There comes a time when silence is not golden but yellow. The church and her preachers must not remain silent while the world goes to hell.

In Titus 2 Paul reminds Brother Titus to include positive teaching in his sermons. After warning about false teachers and sham religion at the end of chapter 1, Paul tells Titus, But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine" (2:1), that is healthy and uncorrupt doctrine or teaching. In verses that follow Paul touches on responsibilities and roles of both genders and of every age group as well as servants/slaves (2:2-10) and urges Titus to exhort members of the church on Crete to a high level of commitment to Christ and to excellence in daily moral and spiritual behavior. Why? So that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things" (2:10). Later in 3:8-9 Paul sum's up the influence Christians can have: "'This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men. But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless." There it is in black and white — the influence of Christians can be "good and profitable" to mankind, or "unprofitable an useless." The difference depends on how Christians conduct themselves. Some are devoted to doing good, while others are content to dispute and debate. Christians must not content themselves to sit around and curse the darkness. If we are to be profitable Christians, we must light a candle through good works and good words. Are you a profitable Christian?

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ